(WOMENSENEWS)—In the two years that we at Daraja Academy have been publishing articles with Teen Voices, we’ve covered many aspects of life as a Kenyan girl. We’ve written about FGM, sex, sexual assault, village chiefs, polygamy, but there is more to Kenya than these things. The Kenya I love is filled with beautiful sceneries, citizens of diverse cultures and an awesome climate.
My favorite thing about living in Kenya is that with time, Kenyans accept change. A few years ago, girls were not considered as nothing, but were mere beings that existed and property to be exchanged. However, girls are in the spotlight in Kenya. Jobs are secured for women and girls are provided with an education accompanied by laws stating that male and female children are equal in the eyes of the government.
In 2013 the government passed the “One-Third Rule” that states one gender cannot be more than two-thirds of the representation in elected or appointed offices. The move to bring in more female leaders in government and other workplaces is very encouraging. There are also more girls entering university than ever before. Things aren’t perfect for girls but we are getting closer.
Culturally, Kenya is rich and diverse with its 42 distinct tribes. Each tribe has a different culture with its own food specialties. The kikuyu dwell on “mukimo” (mashed potatoes with maize and beans). The Maasai love “munono” (milk with blood). The luo love fish and the luhya love “ugali” and “mrenda” (a meal of maize flour with some wild vegetables). It is amazing that civilization has not yet wiped out the positive cultures and traditions of the Kenyans.
The cultures that make me feel proud are the “all for one and one for all” cultures. Today, Kenyan communities come together to take a girl to school. This is because they have come to realize that a girl is a candle whose flame will always ignite other candles. My friend Ndanu told me a story about her cousin who had been called to study in one of the local universities. Her parents could not afford to pay her school fees so members of the community came together and raised enough money to pay for her expenses while in the university. This would not have been the case a few years ago since in her community, girls’ education was not valued.
There are other reasons Kenya is remarkable. Our native wildlife includes the beautiful Grevy’s zebra and the “big 5,” Africa’s most difficult animals to hunt on foot – the elephant, lion, rhinoceros, buffalo and leopard. Plus Kenya is at the equator, so our weather is very similar to Los Angeles. Warm climate and no seasons. We have beaches and the great Mount Kenya for hikes.
People may think Kenya is a hard place to be a girl in, but I love my country, my home.